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Amazon launches new Kindle Paperwhite e-readers: What you should know

In addition to the new Kindle Paperwhite, Amazon introduced the Kindle Paperwhite Signature and Kindle Paperwhite Kids.
Illustration of three new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition and the Kindle Paperwhite for kids
The new Kindle Paperwhites come with a larger 6.8-inch screen and longer 10-hour battery lifeAmazon

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Amazon announced the release of three new Kindle Paperwhite e-readers: the Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Paperwhite Signature and Kindle Paperwhite Kids. This is Amazon’s first refresh of the Paperwhite since 2018, and it comes off the heels of Amazon’s latest Kindle interface update, which the company says provides an easier-to-use experience with easier screen switching and a redesigned library. You can pre-order all of the new Kindle Paperwhites now — they will ship on Oct. 27.

Kindle Paperwhite (pre-order, ships Oct. 27)

The new Paperwhite has a larger screen, 6.8 square inches compared to 6 square inches for the previous version, a dark mode and adjustable warm light, IPX8 water resistance and, according to Amazon, 20 percent faster page turns and 10 percent more brightness at the highest setting. Amazon says that this e-reader has a battery life of up to 10 weeks, compared to up to 6 weeks in the last version, and the new version takes 2.5 hours to charge fully with USB-C charging (with a 9W adapter or larger). The new version still has the 300 ppi display and 8 GB of storage that the previous version had, and access to Amazon’s collection of e-books.

It is available in both ad-supported and, for another $20, ad-free models.

Kindle Paperwhite Signature (pre-order, ships Oct. 27)

Amazon replaced the Kindle Paperwhite 32 GB version and released the Kindle Paperwhite Signature as its new 32 GB offering in the collection. The Signature version has all the same updates and features the 8 GB version has, but adds a front light that adapts to your reading conditions automatically as well as wireless charging capabilities (it works with Qi wireless chargers).

It is only available in an ad-free model.

Kindle Paperwhite Kids (pre-order, ships Oct. 27)

The new Paperwhite also comes in a Kids version, with parental controls, a 1-year subscription to Amazon Kids+ and a 2-year warranty (compared to one year for the standard Paperwhite).

Other e-readers to consider

Illustration of the Amazon Kindle. Nook Glowlight 3, Kobo Libra H2O and the Onyx Boox Nova Air e-readers / Amazon ; ONYX Boox ; Kobo Books ; Barnes and Nobles

There are other Kindles — as well as non-Kindle e-readers — on the market that may suit your needs better than the new Paperwhites. But for a reading experience that’s at least equivalent to the Paperwhite’s, you should look for a 300 ppi display, 8 GB of storage, a 6- to 7-inch display and access to a large library of books.

Kobo Libra H2O

This is an e-reader by Rakuten that has many of the same features as the Kindle, including 8 GB of storage, a 300 ppi display (that’s actually an inch larger) and water-resistant construction. You can add books from the Kobo eBook store, but notably, Kobo e-readers support .epub files, a common eBook file format used by libraries not supported by Kindle products. It comes in either black or white.

Kindle Oasis

This is Amazon’s premium e-reader, with a 7-inch 300 ppi screen, an automatically adjusting front light, waterproof construction as well as an ergonomic design, according to Amazon, with page turn buttons and an auto-rotate feature. It comes in both an 8 GB and 32 GB version.

Nook Glowlight 3

This e-reader may appeal most to loyal Barnes and Noble fans, but it has similar features to its competitors. It has a 6-inch 300 ppi screen, 8 GB of storage, access to Barnes and Noble’s collection of eBooks and just as with the Kobo, .epub files are supported. Barnes and Noble members can also save 10 percent off their Nook purchase.

Onyx Boox Nova Air

An e-reader at a premium price, the recently launched Onyx Boox Nova Air comes with a 7.8-inch screen, 32 GB of memory, and a stylus for note-taking. With an Android 10.0 operating system included, this e-reader has many features, like the Google Play App store, that allow you to use this device like a tablet, in addition to book-reading.

Amazon Kindle

The original Kindle e-reader, the Amazon Kindle offers many features of more expensive e-readers for a sub-$100 price. While it isn’t waterproof and doesn’t offer the same resolution (167 ppi) as the Paperwhite, it does have 8 GB of storage, a 6-inch display and access to the Amazon Kindle eBook store. It comes in both black and white colors. The Kindle also comes in a Kids version, with parental controls, a 1-year subscription to Amazon Kids+ and a 2-year warranty (compared to one year for the regular Kindle).

E-readers today

In 1930, Bob Brown argued that books would soon become obsolete in "The Readies." He proposed a radical solution: a reading machine through which people could enjoy books without a physical copy, an e-reader.

Today’s e-readers bear little resemblance to the wacky contraption Brown conceived of — most articles like “a” or “the” would be omitted for clarity, he planned. Despite Brown's prediction, books are still quite popular. In the National Endowment of the Arts’ latest Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, 53 percent of adults responded that they read at least one book for pleasure (not for work or school) in the previous year.

Most e-readers mimic the experience of ink on a page, rather than attempt to revolutionize reading. They use e-ink technology — Barrett Comiskey, one of the inventors of e-ink technology, explained it like this to Science Friday: “What you end up with is salt and pepper inside a microcapsule — and a way to separate them [is] with an applied electric field.” In the context of an e-reader display, the black particles become the words, and the white particles make up the rest of the page when the microcapsules are exposed to a charge. Because the display is made of these particles, there’s no light necessary (which can reduce eye strain while reading), and devices that use e-ink technology have batteries that last for weeks, as opposed to days.

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